Tyler Waddell, 35, is cycling from Victoria, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon as part of his own spiritual journey following treatment for an alcohol addiction. As well, he hopes to raise awareness about mental health issues and money for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Waddell said he hit rock bottom in Williams Lake and got the help he needed. Angie Mindus photo

‘Williams Lake saved my life’ says cyclist who revisits town where he hit rock bottom

Tyler Waddell travels 2,600 from B.C. to Yukon to awareness about mental health issues

Tyler Waddell admits a tear welled up in his eye when he pedalled into Williams Lake Sunday night.

The lakecity is just one stop — but a special one — on his long cycling and spiritual journey from Victoria, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon that he has embarked on this summer to raise awareness about addictions and mental health issues.

“Williams Lake was the place I got the help I needed to change my life,” Waddell said Monday. “It was pretty much my rock bottom place.”

Waddell, 35, found himself in Williams Lake eight months ago, jobless, feeling hopeless and letting his addiction to alcohol spiral out of control.

“I felt like I had nothing left,” Waddell said of the time, which forced him to seek shelter at the Cariboo Friendship Centre.

Waddell said the Cariboo Friendship Centre offered him supports and connected him with the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilctoin Branch who helped him find affordable housing, while Interior Health sent him to a 90-day treatment centre in Surrey to help him fight his addiction to alcohol and get the couselling and treatment he needed.

Read More: Williams Lake homeless shelter remains open day and night due to extreme cold

“Alcohol was my trouble. But it turns out it was a whole host of other mental health issues that had me self medicating.”

Waddell said through counselling he realized he put up his first emotional wall at the young age of 10 when his parents divorced. A series of other challenges, such as losing loved ones and having survivor’s guilt himself, all led to Waddell’s struggles until he finally dealt with all those feelings at the treatment centre.

Waddell decided Victoria, therefore, was a fitting place to kick off his healing journey, which he did July 3.

Though he has never cycled much, Waddell wants to use his ride to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues and addictions on his 2,600 kilometre journey. Already he has found that people are opening up to him about their own challenges, such as a mother worried about her son’s addictions and another man who shared his struggle with depression.

Read More:‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

“It’s really about the experiences and helping people along the way,” he said. “My eyes have been opened. There’s so much more to life than the past, or even the future. Just being present again in life, that is so beautiful.”

Tyler pulls a small trailer that carries everything he needs: sleeping bag hammock, food, water, bug spray. It has handwritten messages on the side and a growing list of communities he has gone through.

So far, Waddell said the trip has gotten him in great shape, he’s feeling better than ever and also loving setting out on the quiet open road just before sunrise and just before sunset, usually taking his breaks in his 75-kilometre day between 2 and 6 p.m.

Waddell encourages anyone who is struggling to reach out for support from friends, family or any of the many programs he found were so good in Williams Lake.

“I think Williams Lake is lucky to have the CMHA, drop-in programs and the Cariboo Friendship Centre. There are just so many good things.”

With his eyes opened, and feeling like he has a new lease on life, Waddell said he plans to end his journey in Whitehorse where he will start a new life and go back to school to be a holistic counsellor.

His advice to those struggling is to talk about their troubles.

If anyone would like to reach out to Tyler he can be reached on Facebook. Also, he will be leaving Williams Lake heading north toward Quesnel sometime around sunrise Tuesday, July 16.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Police name second suspect, lay kidnapping and attempted murder charges in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incidents

Drynock is considered dangerous, do not approach him and call the local RCMP detachment immediately

Grey Ghost to get back on track at Doug Larson Memorial Race

Quesnel’s Mike Spooner wants to race again after 17-year hiatus

Northern Development Initiative Trust offers rebate for businesses affected by mill closures, curtailments

Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for Forestry Affected Business Consulting Rebate

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read